Causes and Treatments of Heel Pain
Did you know that true heel spurs are rare? For many years, people have been referring to any type of heel pain as a heel "spur". A heel spur is a bony out-growth of the heel bone. The fact is that most heel pain is not caused by a bone growth at all (although sometimes it feels like one!). Most heel pain is caused by an inflammation of the muscles that intersect underneath the heel known as the plantar fascia. The medical term for these causes of heel pain is known as plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fascia is a broad band of fibrous tissue which runs along the bottom surface of the foot from the heel to the toes. Plantar fasciitis is a condition in which the plantar fascia becomes inflamed. Heel bone spurs can be very painful and cause considerable amount of discomfort.
Causes and Symptoms of Heel Pain
There are a number of things that cause heel spurs:
- A sudden increase in weight, such as pregnancy can also lead to plantar fasciitis.
- A sudden increase in walking or a sporting activity can be a contributing factor. A classical example is someone who has returned to an active occupation after a period away from the job or a mother beginning an exercise program after pregnancy.
- Tight plantar fascia (this is often caused by tight calf muscles).
- Excessive flattening of the arch upon weight bearing.
- Biomechanical problems (walking abnormalities) is a major cause of plantar fasciitis.
- Different types of arthritis can lead to this condition such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
|Symptoms include a dull ache which is felt most of the time with episodes of a sharp pain in the center of the heel or on the inside margin of the heel. Often the pain is worse on first rising in the morning and after rest. Heel pain is often aggravated by prolonged weight bearing & thinly soled shoes. Pain or discomfort can be felt anywhere in the foot, including the heel, toes, arch, instep, sole, or ankles.|
Treatments for Heel Pain
Are you experiencing the heel pain symptoms described above? At Viscolas, we understand the shock your body endures during an active day. Most pain treatment programs include several different components. Common treatments for heel pain may include:
- Wear appropriate footwear containing a significant medial arch support, while walking or spending extended period standing.
- Heel Cushions, such as the Heel Spur Cushion or Blue Dot Heel Cup, can provide significant pain relief.
- Apply ice for up to 15 minutes before bedtime to reduce any pain and swelling.
- Take over-the-counter pain medicine with an anti-inflammatory effect, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen (unless you have a history of any other condition that does not allow you to take one of these drugs).
- Exercises have also been effective at reducing heel pain (see below).
- Secondary treatments with injectable corticosteroids are usually reserved for cases where the above treatments have been tried and have not been completely effective. These should be used as a last resort because they may further damage the fat pads.
In a recent study, over 200 patients were prescribed stretching exercises for heel pain. After eight weeks, 72 percent of patients who did the exercises reported some pain relief. Exercises should be performed two or more times daily.
|1. Lean forward against a wall pushing against it, the painful heel behind, leg straightened. Bend forward, keeping heel on the ground. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, straighten up. Repeat 20 times.|
|2. Lean forward onto a table, chair or countertop. Squat slowly. Try to keep heels on ground. Arches and cords will stretch. Hold 10 seconds. Straighten up. Repeat 20 times.|
The above treatments are suggestions based on commonly experienced symptoms and do not represent medical advice. For anything other than minor pain or for persistent pain symptoms, please consult with a Physician for a professional treatment program. You can read more about causes and treatments for Plantar Fasciitis published by the American Association of Family Physicians.
Long standing inflammation causes calcium deposits at the point where the plantar fascia inserts into the heel. This results in the appearance of a sharp thorn-like bone spur on the x-ray. Heel bone spurs are a-symptomatic (not painful in itself); however, the pain arises from the inflammation of the plantar fascia.